Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Edward Purcell on putting together an apparatus for the first nuclear magnetic resonance experiments.

Oral history audio excerpt

Edward Purcell on putting together an apparatus for the first nuclear magnetic resonance experiments.

Purcell:

Yes. Well, see, we actually did the first NMR experiment here, not at MIT. But I wasn't officially back. In fact, I went around MIT trying to borrow a magnet from somebody, a big magnet, get access to a big magnet so we could try it there and I didn't have any luck. So I came back and talked to Curry Street, and he invited us to use his big old cosmic ray magnet which was out in the shed. So I didn't ask anybody else's permission. I came back and got the shop to make us some new pole pieces, and we borrowed some stuff here and there. We borrowed our signal generator from the Psycho Acoustic Lab that Smitty Stevens had. I don't know that it ever got back to him. And some of the apparatus was made in the Radiation Lab shops. Bob Pound got the cavity made down there. They didn't have much to do — things were kind of closing up — and so we bootlegged a cavity down there. And we did the experiment right here on nights and week-ends. We were still working down there.